August 15, 2004


Just unloaded my photos from Friday from my digital camera today. What can I say, I've been busy.


The first sign the storm was near was this gas station on Bloomingdale in Brandon. The shrink-wrapped pumps - so that the nozzles wouldn't fly around like hydra - was a tad chilling.

That criss-cross tape pattern on the window would have been helpful in finding the glass after it shattered, if not a real protection from debris.


I drove to work on Friday morning at about 9:30 a.m. and shot this photo westbound on the LeeRoy Selmon Crosstown Expressway. Now, I've seen downtown Tampa empty plenty of times, but never on a Friday morning that wasn't a holiday.

It was like a scene from "Omega Man" with Charlton Heston, where he's the only guy driving through town after a nuclear war. Only I wasn't wearing Ray Ban Aviators and a pumpkin turtleneck under a brown leisure suit.

But you get the general idea.


I got to work only to find that the Trib had been turned into Fortress Charley, with a patchwork of plywood the only thing between safety and an accountant's worst nightmare.

Note that only the business offices were boarded shut. We journalist types got plenty of wide views from our allegedly hurricane-resistant picture windows.


We may have been about to be blown to smithereens, but we weren't going down without our discount pallets of water, our Sour Cream and Chive Lay's Potato Chips and our loaves of Bunny brand bread.


Refrigeration of a buffet is never a concern where I work. Why?

Because cold cuts never last long in a newsroom. Hell, no foodstuff does.


I took this, thinking I was shooting a "before" shot, as in, "before Tampa was turned into Venice." Alas, there was not to be a deployment of any emergency gondolas. Woulda been cool, though.


I started shooting ridiculous stuff. I thought I noticed the water level on the Hillsborough River was rising. I was right. But not because of any storm surge.

It was just high tide.

I am such a dork.


There may have been shortages of gas and water and ice, but there was not shortage of crap floating down the Hillsborough River. I imagined this huge hunk of Styrofoam was something Tom Hanks would have clung to in "Castaway." I waited a few minutes to see if Wilson would float by.


I brought my travel case of cigars with me to work, thinking they would be a nice token to hand out after the storm had passed.

When the all-clear signal came and Charley did a little juke to the east, I declared victory and lit up my Cohiba shorty. A Churchill-length stogie just seemed inappropriate for some reason.

Posted by Jeff at August 15, 2004 11:19 AM

Nothing says "we don't think very highly of you" like white Bunny-brand bread and cold cuts.

Or, overtime? "...we'll sort that out later."

Posted by: Trouble maker du jour at August 17, 2004 09:42 PM